Kilbeggan Racecourse History
NOTE:The badges displayed on this page are not authentic and are for artistic display only.

The earliest record of racing in the vicinity of the Westmeath town of Kilbeggan was on Monday 9th March 1840 close to the present day Loughnagore course. However, this initial period of racing lasted until 1855 when the course closed, along with many other Irish courses, at the time of the Great Famine. Racing later took place at nearby Ballard from 1879 to 1885, but lapsed once again. When racing was relaunched on Monday 2nd September 1901 it proved to be popular despite hosting just a single meeting annually. No racing took place during the War years 1941 to 1945, but after the War had ended the number of meetings increased from 1947 onwards. In 1971 the course made the brave decision to abandon Flat racing, but that decision appears to have been a good one as they now host quality National Hunt racing. Currently they host 7 fixtures annually.

Although Kilbeggan remains a thriving racecourse, nearby Athlone closed its gates for the final time in 1922.
Athlone stands on the River Shannon on the border between Westmeath and County Roscommon. In the middle of the 18th century the town’s races were deemed sufficiently important to be included in the ‘Historical List of Horse Races & Matches of 1761’. In 1777 the local townspeople offered a prize of £100, a large sum at that time, for a 2 mile race run in 3 heats, but by 1790 the course was in a dire and worrying condition. It was dangerous for spectators, treacherous for jockeys and deadly for horses. It was described as an ‘Ill-laid out course’, although funding for this and most other Irish courses was poor, and the Irish Turf Club had to take action. They did so by appointing a ‘Keeper of the Match Book’ the first of which was Patrick Kelly from Kilcullen. Races continued to be held annually for over 130 years until the final meeting on Monday 15th May 1922.
I am grateful to Google Maps (© Googlemap) for permission to use the map shown below.

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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